About 500 students from Grades 10-12 packed the SRT gym for a federal election candidate meeting. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Gym packed at SRT to hear federal election candidates

It’s important for students to be civically engaged, said teacher

About 500 students packed the gym at Samuel Robertson Technical Thursday morning to see a local federal election faceoff.

The event was held to connect students to the election and help them become civically engaged, said Chris Perger, organizer and an SRT social studies teacher.

Perger said it is important to have these kinds of assemblies because the students don’t often feel connected about why people are voting or what government is all about.

“This will give them an idea to see the faces and see the people involved and hopefully connect to their messages and decide how to get civically engaged,” said Perger.

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The format began with the candidates each being given had an opportunity to speak about their platforms and then finished with an discussion and question period.

Only one candidate was not present. Bryton Cherrier with the People’s Party of Canada was absent.

One of the first questions, about climate change, was directed at Conservative candidate Marc Dalton.

His party’s plan is to develop the technology to help with carbon emissions and make larger companies pay more of the cost, not just individuals, Dalton said.

“But here’s the thing, we don’t believe in adding greater cost. A carbon tax increasing the cost,” he said.

Instead, he suggested the Conservatives would give families tax deductions for making environmentally friendly alterations to their homes.

Another question, about pharmacare, was directed toward NDP candidate John Mogk. He replied that the NDP’s plan is to have universal, cross-Canada pharmacare, and for everyone who has an income of less than $70,000 a year will also get dental care, he added.

Mogk also talked to the students about bullying. He went to three different high schools and it was hard for him to fit in, he said, explaining there were a lot of bullies and a couple of people he knew who committed suicide because of what was happening.

Then, one day, he said, the bullying stopped.

“I didn’t get bullied again because I fought back and they knew that I would fight back every time after that,” he said.

Green Party candidate Ariane Jaschke said that she is a small business owner who is invested in the local economy and the environment.

She said a Green government will phase out oil subsidies and invest the money in green economic sectors like solar power, geothermal and electric.

“We need to get to net zero emissions by 2050 and the Green Party will do this by establishing an inner cabinet of all parties to collaborate and set new targets to achieve our goal and declare a real climate emergency,” she said.

Liberal candidate Dan Ruimy said he spent the last four years as an MP focused on youth as one of his priorities.

“Because it’s so important for you to have that voice,” he elaborated.

Ruimy said that any party has to have climate change at the top of its list. If they don’t, then the parties shouldn’t get votes.

“Your generation is the one that’s going to get stuck with all of this. Your generation is the one that’s going to have to do a lot of that changing,” Ruimy said.

Candidate Steve Ranta received the loudest applause after telling the students that he is running as an independent because,” I don’t believe any of the political parties are on our side and the proof is they are not solving any of the problems.”

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